Described as “The Last of the Yorkshire Wildfowlers” in a 1912 biography published just before his death, Slights liked to pack a punt gun.
A well-known British commercial hunter from the Yorkshire area, Slights was the subject of a now-rare volume on pre-regulation waterfowl hunting that captured him at work late in his career. While we aren’t endorsing the style of market hunting portrayed in the work — a practice that nearly exhausted game stocks and resulted in today’s strict conservation efforts — Slights was preserved for posterity along with his punt gun.
Punt guns, typically large-bore black powder muzzleloaders, were used to harvest resting flocks of waterfowl in bulk. They got their name from the fact the professional hunters of the day pushed them out across the ponds and marsh on flat bottom “punt” boats, hand-paddled them slowly to their target, and set the whole affair off in a ball of smoke and flame.
Slights died in 1913, aged 83. By the 1920s, punt guns were largely banned from hunting both in the UK and U.S., although they are very collectible and spark interest today due to their construction. After all, who doesn’t love an old gun that needs a boat to pack it around?
Competition shooter Robert “Bob” Gordon Vogel recently got behind a homemade punt gun that packs in 11-ounces of shot and 650-grains of FFG black powder, or about ten 12 gauge birdshot loads– and actually set the thing off.